Don't get rid of the performance review!

The current performance review or 360 degree review process

We believe the current process was destined for failure from the get go, it was never going to work for one simple reason, because it's an annual or 6 monthly process. If we're honest with ourselves, most of us would describe the performance review process with the following types of statements:

  • A check the box exercise so we can say "We do performance management!"
  • Everyone hates the process, even the owners hate it.
  • We only do it because everyone else does it.
  • I don't know why we do it, it's rigged anyway.

When you take a moment to think of this age old process, you quickly realise how ridiculous it is. A manager sits down with their team member to discuss performance over the duration of an entire year, how can this possibly be accurate, personally I can barely remember what I was doing last week, let alone 12 months ago.

Current systems only streamline the data entry and reporting process, they are designed to make it easy for HR to run the performance review and deliver professional looking charts from subjective data. They are not designed to deliver highly accurate and objective data on individual performance. In recent months I've been reading about many organisations recognising these issues and throwing the entire process out. At first I thought this was a great move, but then I started to think more deeply about it.

Looking at the intent of today's performance review, it does aim to be a positive process by facilitating an opportunity to:

  • Provide feedback to the team member, both positive reinforcement and areas for improvement
  • Discuss accountabilities associated with the role
  • Highlight expectations going forward
  • Discuss ratings applied, how they may be improved and chart progress

What if we could do the performance review a different way?

To explain this let's take a look at the taxi industry BU (Before Uber). I get in a cab, the interior is grubby and sometimes smelly, the driver mumbles at me, I mumble at the driver, he drives me the long way around and I get out feeling ripped off. Basically, the performance of the driver, and me was pretty damn low.

Now look at the taxi industry AU. I get in the Uber with an enthusiastic greeting, the car is immaculate, it never smells and the driver greets me with a smile, a bottle of water and bowl of mints. We go the quickest route, have a deep n meaningful conversation on the way and I get out feeling great. The performance of the driver, and me was impeccable. Why? Because we both know the proper way to behave and we are about to rate each other against it. 

This process happens for every single ride and if that driver scores below a certain number, he'll be called in for a discussion on how he might be able to lift his game. If I score consistently low, I might find it difficult to get a driver for future trips.

When we looked at that process it was almost everything a performance process should be, so we asked ourselves how we could apply this approach to the workplace. It became clear the way to implement a successful performance management process was from the ground up. A process that:

  1. Is integrated with daily activities and owned at the individual level
  2. Articulates accountabilities for the task upfront
  3. Rates the quality of the each individual's contribution in getting the task done
  4. Delivers 2 way feedback at the time of task completion on what was great or what could be improved

When we apply this radically new way of rating each other at the daily task level it is a crowd sourced score that becomes a meaningful number, just as we would use when dealing with individuals from Uber, eBay, AirBNB etc

We'd love love to hear your thoughts - would you like to rate your team mates and would you be happy about them rating you?